Owning a cat increases your risk of postpartum depression, study finds

Pets could influence the mental health of pregnant women. This is what a recent study has just revealed, which has established a link between the presence of a cat during a woman’s pregnancy and the risk of her being a victim of postpartum depression after giving birth.

On now has more than 14 million cats in French homesaccording Le Figaro. While many of us enjoy their company, these little furballs might still have adverse effects on the mental health of women about to become mothers. This is revealed by a new study published by Japanese researchers in the journal Social Science & Medicine on July 11 and of which The Independent and Slate echoed. In fact, there would be a link between owning a cat during pregnancy and a higher risk of postpartum depression. Conversely, if the pet is a dog, the risk will be lower than normal. “The type of pet you own plays a role in maintaining good mental health in mothers before and after childbirth,” the study states.

The team of scientists, led by Dr. Matsumura, came to such a conclusion after gathering information on the demographic and socio-economic status of 80,000 pregnant women in Japan. The latter responded five times to a questionnaire about their physical and mental healththeir medical and obstetric history or even their way of life, between the beginning of their pregnancy and the first birthday of their child. They were then asked if they had a cat, a dog or both. In total, nearly 9,000 women assured to live with a catmore of 4,000 reported having a dog and less than 1,300 indicated having them of them.

“Cat owners should be especially worried”

Finally, the survey results showed that women with owned a cat during their pregnancy more easily develop postpartum depressive symptoms about six months after giving birth. On the other hand, women who lived alongside a dog during their pregnancy saw their lower anxiety and depression levels between the first and sixth month following childbirth. They also experienced a stress reduction a year after giving birth to their child. “Our results suggest that cat owners should be especially concerned as they are at higher risk of mental health complications and toxoplasmosis“, Dr. Matsumura concluded.

Read also ⋙ Postpartum depression: one in three mothers affected by maternal burnout
⋙ Will our cats destroy the environment?

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